As one of the smaller Argentinian wine regions, it’s almost as if the Salta Wine Region is reserved for VIP wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs. Those who have done their research found that while Mendoza is the largest producer of Argentinian wine, some of the best are actually found in the high altitudes of Northwest Argentina. The Salta Wine Region is much smaller than Mendoza but the quality of its wineries, landscapes, local culture, and accommodation are thought to match or even surpass its larger rival. Let’s take a closer look to see why exactly the little-known Salta Wine Region is well worth visiting.
Welcome to the Salta Wine Region
Since viticulture began here in the 16th century, Salta Wine Region has distinguished itself as one of the finest in South America. Its vineyards are spread across the High Andes Mountains; a breathtakingly beautiful place to sip on fine Argentinian wines like Malbec and Tannat. Producing just over 1% of Argentinian wines, Salta Wine Region remains intimate and localized. Yet, it boasts wineries that rival even the best-known wineries in Mendoza, Argentina’s biggest wine region. Beyond the vineyards, Salta invites you to explore its unique Mars-like landscapes and indigenous culture. Find adorable adobe villages blended amongst cactus fields and wine-colored rockscapes as you hop from one winery to the next. For those interested in exploring other areas of Argentina, discover our Luxury Argentina Tours.
Where the Salta Wine Region is and What Makes it Ideal for Wine Making
Tucked between snow-capped mountains in the foothills of the High Andes in the northwestern tip of Argentina, Salta is renowned as the highest-altitude wine region in the world. Some vineyards even reach above 3,000 meters from sea level. During the day, Salta Wine Region’s vineyards are drenched in sunlight, intensified by its proximity to the atmosphere. At night, temperatures drop dramatically. While the region gets little rainfall, the vineyards are well-fed by meltwater from the surrounding mountains. This produces ripe, crisp, and intensely rich grapes that create splendid wines.
What Wines Are Produced in the Salta Wine Region?
MALBEC – Argentina is famous for its full-bodied Malbec, born from a dark and delicious grape that thrives in high-altitude environments. While the Mendoza Wine Region is more widely associated with Malbec, the Salta Wine Region produces some of the best in the country. Expect a dark and robust wine with notes of blackcurrant, cherry, plum, and hints of tobacco.
TANNAT – Like Malbec, Tannat is a robust full-bodied wine renowned for its smokey, dark, and rich blackcurrant and plum notes. Tannat may be the national wine of Uruguay, but it isn’t as readily available around the world. This makes for an extra-special wine-tasting experience. What’s more, it’s considered the world’s healthiest wine thanks to its high level of antioxidants, so drink up!
MERLOT – Lighter and smoother than Malbec and Tannat, Merlot is considered one of the easiest wines to drink. While dark and fruity, its medium body keeps it light on the palate. Largely produced in Bordeaux, France, the Salta Wine Region makes it its own.
CABERNET SAUVIGNON – Cabernet Sauvignon is considered a full-bodied wine with black cherry, tobacco, and vanilla notes. Yet, widely produced around the world, its taste differs widely from country to country. Thanks to its high altitudes, northern Argentina produces some of the most delicious Cabernet Sauvignons on the market.
TORRONTES – Primarily grown in Cafayate, Torrontes is the Salta Wine Region’s main white wine. Sweet and citrusy, Torrontes is a refreshing easily drinkable wine. In a region dominated by reds, Torrontes white wines give the Salta Wine Region that extra flair of variety.
Must-Visit Wineries in the Salta Wine Region
Stretching across the Calchaqui Valley to Cachi, Molinos, and Cafayate, the Salta Wine Region is awash with wineries. From the historic to the modern, the boutique to the branded, each winery in the Salta Wine Region promises an enriching visit. Explore our curated list of the best wine tours in Argentina. In the meantime, here are some of our very favorites:
Colomé – Open since 1831, Colomé has grown to become one of Argentina’s most treasured wineries. While its status as the highest vineyard in the world adds credit, the mouthwatering Malbecs give this winery its name. From wine tastings to culinary experiences and luxury stays, it makes every visit worthwhile.
Bodega Tukma – A rustic boutique winery with an international reputation. Bodega Tukma shares its excellent range of wines with guests amongst the ancient trees around the estate. Meanwhile, its modern hotel and spa provide a luxurious place to admire its scenic location for longer.
Estancia Las Cardones – This modern winery built from the very earth of the Salta Wine Region was established in 2017 and is already considered one of the region’s top wineries. Don’t leave the Salta Wine Region without joining its wine-tasting experience paired with classic Argentinian bites.
Bodega El Esteco – Set in a traditional estancia, this winery offers some of the best wine tours in the region. Try wine tasting around an open fire under the stars, via horseback as you roam through its vineyards, and on the patios of a five-star hotel.
How to Visit the Salta Wine Region
Taste – hop from winery to winery sampling their selection of fine wines in the very vineyards where they’re grown, the cellars where they’re stored, or even around a campfire late into the evening. Most wineries in the Salta Wine Region offer winery tours and tastings, giving you plenty of opportunity to become a connoisseur of Argentinian wine.
Eat – try the best Argentinian wines in the Salta Wine Region alongside some of the best national and regional dishes including Argentinian steak and lomo de llama. Many of the wineries across the region run their very own fine dining restaurants where their wines are paired with the perfect plates, often with romantic views of the Andes setting the scene.
Hike – between wine tastings, take some time to explore the landscapes of northern Argentina which are unlike anywhere else in the world. While the High Andes Mountain plateau awaits to the west of the Salta Wine Region, the Salinas Grandes (salt flats) await to the north. Alternatively, opt to go horseback riding around the region.
See – although visiting wineries and hunting for the best Malbec in Argentina is always a pleasure, there is so much more to see and do in northwestern Argentina. Take some time out of winery hopping to visit the surrounding colonial cities, traditional pueblos, and remote corners to discover the rich culture and lifestyle that characterizes the region.
Stay – the Salta Wine Region boasts a wide selection of retreats, lodges, hotels, and even traditional estancias that promise a relaxing and luxurious stay amongst the Anes Mountains. Whilst some are tucked between vineyards allowing you to fully immerse in the wine region, others are hidden amongst the mountains for ultimate escapism.
What Else to See and Do in Salta
Quebrada de Humahuaca – hike through the dusty earthen Mars-like landscapes that form the Quebrada de Humahuaca and discover the rainbow-striped Hill of Seven Colors along the way
Salinas Grandes – take in the astonishing scenes of Argentina’s vast salt flats which look like a white desert on a dry day and a sky beneath your feet after the rain
Purmamarca & Tilcara – as you travel across the Salta Province, be sure to stop in these small adobe towns known for their rich Andean culture and traditional handicrafts
Visit Salta & Cafayate – take some time to explore northwestern Argentina’s biggest cities, Salta which is known for its Spanish Coonial architecture, and Cafayate, the center of the Salta Wine Region
Discover the landscapes of Puna de Atacama – reach the highest plateau of the Andes Mountains known as the Puna de Atacama to admire its vast arid landscape broken up by colorful lakes and active volcanoes
Los Cardones National Park – find yourself in the Wild West of South America on a hike through this national park best known for its giant rock formations and unusual cactus forests
Tren a Las Nubes – considered one of the best train rides in South America, Tren a Las Nubes crosses the Salta Province, often speeding above the clouds thanks to its distinctly high altitude
How to Get to Salta
Despite being in the far north of Argentina, Salta is very easy to reach. There are frequent non-stop flights available between Buenos Aires and Salta, the capital of Argentina, which take just over two hours each way. Upon reaching Salta, it’s best to hire a car or a driver to see the best of what the region has to offer.
How to Book a Trip to Salta
To make the most of your visit to the Salta Wine Region, speak to one of our Argentina experts. They will be able to plan and arrange the very best winery visits, tours, and accommodations to make your visit enriching and memorable. Find out more by messaging us here or calling +1 855 217 9045.